Recent Outbreak of Anthrax

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Anthrax is primarily a disease of herbivores. Humans almost invariably contract the natural disease directly or indirectly from animals or animal products.

Naturally acquired human anthrax infection generally results from contact with infected animals, or occupational exposure to infected or contaminated animal products. The incidence of the natural disease depends on the level of exposure to affected animals. Reported animal-human case ratios in a country or region reflect the economic conditions, quality of surveillance, social traditions, dietary behavior, etc. in that country or region. In contrast to animals, age- or sex-related bias is generally not apparent in humans, though males generally have higher occupational risk rates in many countries.

On June 12, The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development made it known to the general public on the Recent Outbreak of Anthrax in some neighboring countries within the West African Region, they include Northern Ghana, bordering Burkina Faso and Togo.

Dr. Ernest Afolabi, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry has therefore warned Nigerians to stop the consumption of hides (popularly known as ponmo), bush meat, and smoked meat.

Anthrax is a zoonotic bacterial disease that affects both animals and man. This bacteria disease has resulted in the loss of many lives.

Bacillus anthracis has always been high on the list of potential agents with respect to biological warfare and bioterrorism.

Transmission in animals

 • It is a long-held belief that animals generally acquire anthrax by ingestion of spores while grazing or browsing. However, anomalies in the epizootiology of the disease often arise that are hard to explain in terms of simple ingestion of spores.

• Flies appear to play an important role in explosive outbreaks.

 • Inhalation within dust may be important on occasion.

• Direct animal-to-animal transmission is believed to occur to an insignificant extent, excluding carnivores feeding on other victims of the disease.

 • Human activities in the form of trade have long been responsible for the spread of the disease globally.

• The age, sex and condition of animals may all influence the incidence of the disease at any one site.

 • Carriage or latent infection are unproven states but have not been disproved either.

 • Many anomalies and unknowns remain in our understanding of how animals acquire anthrax and how it is transmitted.

“People can get infected with Anthrax spores if they come in contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products.

Signs of Anthrax include:

Cutaneous Anthrax Symptoms can include:

  • A group of small blisters or bumps that may itch
  • Swelling can occur around the sore
  • A painless skin sore (ulcer) with a black center that appears after the small blisters or bumps
    • Most often the sore will be on the face, neck, arms, or hand.

Inhalation Anthrax Symptoms can include:

  • Fever and chills
  • Chest Discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion or dizziness
  • Cough
  • Nausea, vomiting, or stomach pains
  • Headache
  • Sweats (often drenching)
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Body aches

Gastrointestinal Anthrax Symptoms can include:

  • Fever and chills
  • Swelling of neck or neck glands
  • Sore throat
  • Painful swallowing
  • Hoarseness
  • Nausea and vomiting, especially bloody vomiting
  • Diarrhea or bloody diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Flushing (red face) and red eyes
  • Stomach pain
  • Fainting
  • Swelling of abdomen (stomach

Injection Anthrax Symptoms can include:

  • Fever and chills
  • A group of small blisters or bumps that may itch, appearing where the drug was injected
  • A painless skin sore with a black center that appears after the blisters or bumps
  • Swelling around the sore
  • Abscesses deep under the skin or in the muscle where the drug was injected

Being a bacterial disease, it responds to treatment with antibiotics and supportive therapy.

It is advised that the public remains calm and vigilant as the Federal Government has resuscitated a Standing Committee on the Control of Anthrax.

The Permanent Secretary has called on the border states of Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Oyo, Ogun and Lagos to make sure animals are vaccinated because they are very close to Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Togo.

Infected dead animals should be buried into the soil along with equipment used after applying chemicals that will kill Anthrax spores.

Note: Nigerians are advised to stop the consumption of hides (popularly known as ponmo), bush meat, and smoked meat.

Thank you for reading and stay safe